Life is Gross and Then You Die
I watch a lot of romantic comedies.
If Hugh Grant is in it, I’ve seen it. If it involves a funny but sweet montage, I’ve seen it six times. I’m looking forward to the release of Bridget Jones’s Baby the way adult fanboys look forward to the release of a new Star Wars film (which, coincidentally, I am also looking forward to. I can have layers, okay?)
That being said, I’ve seen a lot of (fictional) romances unfold. And I can tell you this–– at no point during the funny but sweet montage does the girl bowl over with a stomach ache. At no point while Colin Firth is eventually professing his undying love does Rene Zellweger have to pause their love story for a poorly timed emergency trip to the bathroom. When Harry and Sally are driving cross-country, they don’t have to make two dozen stops at questionable gas station bathrooms. Anne Hathaway doesn’t keep a travel Pepto Bismol in her purse.
So it’s come as an unpleasant surprise at age 24 to learn that I am not the star of my own romantic comedy. I’m just Sam.
And just Sam has Crohn’s disease, a chronic illness whose main side effects are a lot of gross things that you don’t mention in polite conversation. Chronic illness in general can be isolating, but you know what’s extra isolating? Talking about poop.
I agree with the commercials and campaigns that say “Crohn’s is more than just a bathroom disease.” It is! It’s way more! It’s a host of other things, like extreme abdominal pain like you’ve never felt before, and anemia, and skin rashes, and arthritis, and eye problems, and a lot of other unpleasant things. But it’s also a bathroom thing, day in and day out, and I would be remiss to run a blog about Crohn’s disease and be afraid to talk about shit like this. The literal kind of shit.
So, at the risk of jeopardizing my chances of ever becoming a romantic comedy heroine, here’s the sitch: everybody poops. Even Beyonce, and heads of state. Even the super hot girl who works at your gym. Even your fancy aunt who doesn’t let people eat in the living room. People with Crohn’s happen to do it a lot. So much so, in fact, that I think if you can’t talk about and joke about it, you’d go insane. And since you’re already going to the bathroom like a dozen times a day, you don’t also have time to deal with being institutionalized.
All within the past year, I have done the following: collected my own poop, stored it IN MY FRIDGE next to my Kombucha, and then delivered it to the hospital to be examined. I have drunk a gallon of liquid laxative and then had a camera shoved up my ass. I have started bleeding out my ass and then, because I lack tact, referred to it in conversation as my butt period. I have come dangerously close to shitting myself on pretty much every form of public transit in Chicago, and a few in other cities. I have had hemorrhoids. I have had the adult version of diaper rash. I have become intimately familiar with where you can find unlocked public bathrooms.
I’m lucky because my best friends are disgusting human beings. They can talk about shit all day. They love to be gross. I recently had a cyst burst and they spent an undue amount of time asking me about its contents. The universe sent me the perfect human beings to be in my life if I was going to be living as the human iteration of the poop emoji. They never ask questions when we’re on a road trip and I need to pull over. Those are friends you need.
My body does a whole variety of fun and unspeakable things on a pretty much weekly basis. It gets seriously discouraging–– becoming afraid to eat because everything you eat makes you violently ill is not a good look, and it’s a situation I’m in regularly. It also gets seriously dangerous–– dehydration is no joke, folks. But it also gets seriously more manageable if you can joke about it. As with most bad things in life, if you can find a way to laugh at it, you win.
So I’m a little nervous to post this blog, because I’m still secretly hoping Zac Efron is going to come sweep me off my feet, and I’m not sure he (or any guy) is going to be interested in a girl who has told the whole internet about how much toilet paper she goes through. But I’m holding out hope that one day I will be the subject of my own rom-com, and the dude won’t care if I have to pause our passionate kiss backed by a romantic overture because my stomach is rumbling in that dangerous way.
I feel like maybe Hugh Grant would understand.